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The application of Fluids Dynamics in Accident Investigation – the Buncefield Explosion

There was a huge gas explosion at the Buncefield oil terminal just outside Hemel Hempstead in December 2005. It was claimed to be the largest industrial vapour cloud explosion in peace time Britain and reportedly felt in Southampton some 80 miles away. Such a large explosion was not expected from this type of facility. A major incident investigation board was set up by the UK government. Its preliminary report said, “The Magnitude of the overpressure generated… not consistent with current understanding of vapour cloud explosions”.

Dr. Tam was drafted into the scientific team specifically to address this explosion mechanism issue. He will take you through the event and the detailed scientific investigation to identify the mechanism of the Buncefield explosion highlighting the role of the fluid dynamics along the way.